The Los Angeles Lakers have undergone a lot of change this offseason in their quest to forget about the 2021-22 season completely. The Lakers were hoping that the star trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook would be enough to lead them to the promised land. Instead, they missed the playoffs entirely, which was a massively disappointing result given the expectations surrounding the team heading into the season.
Jeanie Buss has some interesting thoughts on the 2021-22 Lakers, specifically Russell Westbrook
Nobody inside the Lakers organization was happy with how the previous season went, including team owner Jeanie Buss. Buss recently sat down with The Athletic for an in-depth interview to discuss pretty much every aspect of the Lakers, including their lost 2021-22 season.
Buss certainly wasn't pleased with how the season went but was delighted with how Westbrook, the newest member of the team's top trio, performed last season. In fact, Buss even went so far as to label Westbrook as the team's best player last season. Quite a shocking take, especially considering how good James was for L.A. last season. Here's a closer look at Buss' full response.
"All I can say is that, from my point of view, (Westbrook) was our best player last year. He played pretty much every single game, showed up, worked hard. You know, I would have loved to have seen what this team would have looked like if they stayed healthy. It's really tough to win when Anthony Davis isn't on the court. LeBron was hurt a lot of the season. But Russ showed up every game and played hard every night. And, you know, I just really appreciate him for who he is and what he brings to the team."
Jeanie Buss, The Athletic
Now, it's worth noting in the aftermath of the interview that, when asked to clarify her stunning take, Buss changed her wording to "most consistent" player, based on the fact he played 78 games last season. Whether or not Buss is trying to go back on her take is unknown, but either way, it is a stunning take that caught a lot of attention around the NBA community.
It's clear that Westbrook was not the Lakers' best player last season
One thing is for sure: Westbrook was not the Lakers' best player last season. James would certainly take that title considering how much of the workload he had to carry for L.A. when he was on the floor, in his age 37 season nonetheless. Westbrook, however, labored through arguably the worst season of his career and was benched late in games multiple times due to his struggles.
Even if Buss truly meant consistent, it's still not correct. Just because Westbrook suited up doesn't make him consistent. His shooting was volatile, and his defensive contributions were not what they once were. Again, Westbrook was so detrimental to his team at times that he was benched in favor of other options in close games.
Westbrook's first season in Los Angeles was terrible, which is why the Lakers have been looking to trade him all offseason long. Maybe Buss is trying to boost his confidence for the upcoming season, but besides that, there's no sidestepping what is an absolutely outrageous take from L.A.'s owner.